Rockin’ Rydell Blu-ray Edition
Directed by Randal Kleiser
Starring John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway
Release Date: May 5, 2009
It’s hard to imagine there’s anybody out there who has not seen this landmark piece of American cinema. Forget Troy and Gabriella, they’ve got nothing on Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and Grease will always be the original high school musical. Even 31 years after its original release, Grease is still regarded as the definitive American musical and a masterpiece of a film.
The Blu-ray release, however, is not as ground-breaking as the film itself. Though long-time fans of the film may jump at the chance for a high-def version, if they already own the DVD “Rockin’ Rydell” edition, there is little reason to repurchase.
Even as Blu-ray technology becomes more widespread, it seems a vast majority of people who use it are videophiles who want the absolute best. Unfortunately, the picture quality on the Grease Blu-ray leaves a bit to be desired. The disc contains a 1080p high-def transfer of the film, but seems spotty at points. Though the film’s vibrant colors really pop in high definition, many scenes lack the crispness one has come to expect from Blu-ray. This is especially noticeable when skipping chapters, as one scene may look great but the next looks practically blurry by comparison.
You have to have good audio quality for a musical, so thankfully the disc comes with an English Dolby 5.1 TrueHD audio track as well as French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish Mono audio tracks. The disc includes subtitles in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
When it comes to bonus features, there are plenty to choose from. Quantity and variety are certainly not a problem. In addition to the usual bonus features one would expect (commentary tracks, deleted scenes), the disc includes footage from the 25th anniversary DVD release party, where cast and crew reunited to discuss the the film and perform some of the now classic songs. There are bonus featurettes on various aspects of the film: the songs, the choreography, the cars, etc. One feature places the lyrics to every song on the screen like a karaoke machine, with the option to view them separately or as part of the film. So if you were born to do the hand jive, you can do so while singing along.
The problem is in the quality of the bonus features. All of the bonus features are in standard definition, with the deleted scenes actually in black and white with visible film damage. And while the sing-alongs and featurettes are a nice addition to disc, the content is all recycled from the DVD edition.
Overall, if you like Grease, odds are you already own the DVD, and if that is the case, you’d be hard pressed to find a good reason to upgrade to Blu-ray. Though there is a noticeable increase in picture quality, it is also noticeably inconsistent and the bonus features are nothing new.
Picture Quality: B
Audio Quality: A
Bonus Material: C+ (A for quantity, D for quality and originality)